Writing Workshop: Before You Hit Publish

writing for the web checklistWhile my Kansas City friends are stuck with more snow, I’m soaking up the sun and fun in the Gaylord Biodome at Blissdom (where is that sarcasm font when you need it)?

At V3, we work with agencies and brands and do a lot of blogger and influencer outreach. Today’s workshop: Writing for the Web: What, Why and How to Kick Butt At It is intended to help bloggers master the art of not only writing for the web, but also understanding how to deliver great results for the brands and agencies they work with. 

Content marketing is the number one strategic marketing focus for brands and agencies, so when bloggers understand the basics of content marketing, they can better position themselves for relationships that are mutually beneficial. And agencies and brands, we’re all over that.

But writing for the web and effective content marketing takes skill. It’s not as easy as writing a blog post. And the work doesn’t stop when you’ve written the post. The distribution channels you develop and relationships you’ve cultivated over the years can have a huge impact on the success (read that: reach and impact) of your content. Equally as important is tracking your results and reporting back to your brand or agency partners–which is delivering the ultimate value as a content partner.

But distribution and reporting are things I’ll cover in a subsequent post. Back to writing. Here are the bare bones, must-do things you should do before you hit that “publish” button:

Before You Hit “Publish”

The Basics

  • Your headline is key. Make sure it’s compelling, captures attention and is clear on the value your post delivers. Cute but unclear won’t cute it.
  • Make sure your post is 300 words minimum and no more than 700.
  • Images are important. Sometimes an image is what makes me read your post, so be sure and include one.
  • Your first paragraph is very important. Make sure it delivers the key message of the post and that it’s short and compelling.
  • Cite your  sources and make sure that any claims made are linked to clear sources.

SEO 101

  • Your headline must be 60 characters or less.
  • Your first paragraph must be strong and include the keyword or keyword phrase from your title.
  • Make sure you’ve included a link in your first sentence or first paragraph that connects to a related piece from the blog on which you’re publishing.
  •  Include 2-5 additional links within the body of the post that connect to relevant material on relevant external sites, as well as the site on which you’re publishing. All links within the body of the post should not be to your site or to the site that your post is appearing on.
  • Make sure your links use text phrases 2-5 words long and describe where the link leads (i.e. use “writing for bloggers” vs. “click here”).
  • Use bolded subheads in your post to help readability.
  • Use keywords wisely in your subheadings.
  • All images have captions, alt text and titles relevant to the post topic.

Content

  • Read the post aloud to proofread before publishing.
  • Use contractions. This will help your writing sound conversational.
  • Ask yourself if you’re using needless jargon and if so, ditch it.
  • Make 100% certain that your post delivers what the headline claims, otherwise, you’ll annoy your readers.
  • Don’t ramble. This is where reading aloud will help you. If your content isn’t on topic, get rid of it.
  • Provide valuable action steps instead of vague, empty statements.
  • Finish with a strong call-to-action at the end.
  • Edit, edit and edit again.

And there you have it–your pre-publish writing checklist. Bookmark it, print it out, tattoo it on your arm–whatever you do, make sure you keep these tips in mind as you’re creating content for the web. My wish is for you to develop fantastic, long-lasting relationships with great brands and agencies. And hopefully these tips will help you write content that knocks their socks off.

By the way, if you’re at Blissdom this weekend, find me and say hi! I love to stalk meet Internet friends.

Image: Courtney Dirks via Compfight cc

  • http://twitter.com/JimCanto Jim Canto

    This IS a gift. Thank you! I’m setting an appointment with my Tattoo artist now. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/happywivesclub Happy Wives Club™

    This is fabulous! Printing now.

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    Ha! So you admit you’re a stalker!

    Seriously, great list. I’d add 2 things. If you have trouble with proof reading, read the text backwards from the end. Even helps with grammar, strangely enough. Second, for those who are stickers for guidelines or rules – occasionally you might break one standard to really do great on another.

    Example: SEO is really important, but if you have to go over by a couple of extra characters to produce a really great headline, decide based on what’s important to you.

    I used to AGONIZE over getting posts exactly right. And the result was that I stopped writing.

    Great post.

  • Avil Beckford

    This is so simple that even a child could follow the instructions. Great points Tinu!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shellykramer Shelly DeMotte Kramer

    Great points, Tinu. And also remembering that you’re not writing a novel, you’re writing a blog post. Some people agonize so over their posts that, like you mention, they quit writing. Which is tragic!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shellykramer Shelly DeMotte Kramer

    Thanks Avil. Glad you enjoyed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shellykramer Shelly DeMotte Kramer

    I wanna see it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shellykramer Shelly DeMotte Kramer

    Thanks … glad you enjoyed!

  • Rann Patterson

    Great post! I don’t put links at the beginning because I feel like they are going to send my reader off the page before they even get started. Speaking for myself, once I click from a page, I may never make it back – a distraction in mind or real life hits. We have so much to read already and only so much time. For Research purposes, if you find a good source AND good links- you’ve hit a gold mine!
    This was great, thank you!

  • Rann Patterson

    Great advice!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks for stopping by Rann. I don’t believe links are designed to send readers away, quite the opposite, in fact. They are meant to substantiate what you’re writing about with relevant, related content and/or sources. So that you know if you’re reading about something that interests you and you want to dive deeper, you can. That’s why an early link should be to relevant, related content on your OWN site (as mentioned in the list), so that you can lead them deeper into your site, and your brain. Which is, after all, the point, no?

    Appreciate you sharing your thoughts – always.

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  • jill

    Can you share what sharing plug in you are using. Mine doesn’t have the options of being at the top and I agree that it is a powerful statement. Thanks!

  • ShellyKramer

    I think it’s Shareaholic

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  • chatmeter

    These are some great tips. I will definitely be writing these down and review before we publish our next blog. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/TheHarriedMom Debra Rutt

    This is like a list of Golden Rules to follow when blogging. Thanks for sharing!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Debra. So glad you enjoyed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sandra.calixto.33 Sandra Calixto

    Great tips! Thank you!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Sandra …. glad you like :)

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks a bunch – glad to hear they’ll be useful to you!

  • http://twitter.com/iatraveler iatraveler

    A great session at Blissdom! Thanks for your insight!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks so much – I never tire of hearing that :) )

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    Absolutely. And I love to write so I can’t imagine what it must be like for people who struggle to or don’t care for it.

  • http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/ Tammy

    That was crazy, freaky helpful. The biodome must have some good juju going.

  • ShellyKramer

    Hahaha! Well yes, it did :) ))

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  • http://www.evolvedmommy.com Stephanie McCratic

    I needed to hear everything you said about headlines. “Cute but unclear won’t cut it.” Noted. Shoot.

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